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The Pulpit
Pulpit Comments
October 26, 2007 -- The Future is Cloudy
Status: [CLOSED]

I thought google uses it's own db technology, BigTable?

mikeal | Oct 26, 2007 | 2:46PM

I just tried out google's spreadsheet (gcalc?). It is slow and the keyboard shortcuts I'm used to in Excel aren't there, but it does have one very cool feature: You can use data from Google in spreasheets, and I believe it is dynamic. It was very easy to throw together a "net worth" spreadsheet using Google stock quotes. In Excel I would have had to dive into VBasic or try to find a plug in.

eric | Oct 26, 2007 | 3:00PM

I just tried out google's spreadsheet (gcalc?). It is slow and the keyboard shortcuts I'm used to in Excel aren't there, but it does have one very cool feature: You can use data from Google in formulas, and I believe it is dynamic. It was very easy to throw together a "net worth" spreadsheet using Google stock quotes. In Excel I would have had to dive into VBasic or try to find a plug in.

eric | Oct 26, 2007 | 3:00PM

Yes, my understanding is that Google only uses MySQL for internal apps. I partnered with one of the Google internal infrastructure people in a MySQL replication and clustering course, and that's what he claimed. I also recently attended a talk on the internals of Big Table which is, of course, the custom distributed storage system Google uses for a lot of their stuff. In my understanding, Big Table does most of the heavy lifting, and MySQL is only used for smaller internal projects.

Very interesting to see how and if this does relate to the cloud computing initiatives. Google sneaking its way on to my desktop has me nervous, partly because I'm trying to sneak my own software, LittleShoot, on to everyone's desktops! I don't want to encounter Google trying to intimidate me in the dark alleys of your file system.

Adam Fisk | Oct 26, 2007 | 3:27PM

Why is the choice between Google and running your own server? There are hundreds of vendors out there willing to provide email service for your domain for less money than Google, and with great reliability, webmail access, and support (support being where Google is most notably lacking.) Hopefully, more people continue to use and recommend these smaller businesses.

SlashChick | Oct 26, 2007 | 3:27PM

Is it possible that the code added to MySQL is (as a start) to allow you to take a copy of your Google data and the Google apps with you, so you're never really disconnected? Then, the db could replicate back into the cloud when it senses a connection.

James | Oct 26, 2007 | 3:41PM

They're having a discussion about Cringley's attempt to win the Google Lunar X Prize over at PromoteYourOpinion.com

http://www.promoteyouropinion.com/wfTopic.aspx?TopicID=11

Matt | Oct 26, 2007 | 3:43PM

My concern with Google is that they are going to hold all our information and soon be a Big Brother.

I'm not usually paranoid about these kinds of things, but Google knows more about most of us than we know about ourselves.

They can track all our queries, and with Google Checkout, our credit card information, now they'll have all our emails and all our data.

As you may recall, they reluctantly decided to limit the amount of time they keep your queries. If I remember correctly, it was reduced to 3 years.

MauiNick

MauiNick | Oct 26, 2007 | 4:04PM

Robert, you must not be familiar with the history of MySQL releases. It has taken them years to get new releases up to a stable condition. And their history of integrating big new features is even worse.

Joseph Scott | Oct 26, 2007 | 4:05PM

My concern with Google is that they are going to hold all our information and soon be a Big Brother.

They do? I think this is overrated paranoia. Google knows a lot about me, but so does my bank, and my credit card company.

My CC knows what I buy, where, and when.

They know where I drive (at least the area) when I buy gas.

They know what know what food I like to eat.

They know where I like to shop (and when).

Tom | Oct 26, 2007 | 4:19PM

Big Photoshop job? Pah! No such thing on modern hardware. If you want to sell the advantages of cloud computing, get it set up and running on Maya 3D for rendering. Now THAT's a worthy job for any render farm.

David | Oct 26, 2007 | 4:24PM

It may be cliche, but I, for one, really do welcome our new Google overlords.

I use Google Mail, Calendar, Docs, and Maps on a daily basis. Calendar, and all its wonderful color-codedness, is by itself so essential to managing my family's activities, I would hate to give it up for anything else. Add "free" and "from any location" to something that works fantastically, and I'm hooked.

Love Mail. Love Docs. Love Maps. Couldn't live without Calendar. Gimme more. If Google were a sports team, I've have a signed jersey, a big foam hand, and season tickets -- as long as they were free and I could watch from anywhere in the stadium any time I wanted.

Jon

Jon | Oct 26, 2007 | 4:24PM

Paranoia is only overrated when it isn't true...and your latter comment prove that's not the case.

Robert Anthony Pitera | Oct 26, 2007 | 4:25PM

It may be cliche, but I, for one, really do welcome our new Google overlords.

I use Google Mail, Calendar, Docs, and Maps on a daily basis. Calendar, and all its wonderful color-codedness, is by itself so essential to managing my family's activities, I would hate to give it up for anything else. Add "free" and "from any location" to something that works fantastically, and I'm hooked.

Love Mail. Love Docs. Love Maps. Couldn't live without Calendar. Gimme more. If Google were a sports team, I've have a signed jersey, a big foam hand, and season tickets -- as long as they were free and I could watch from anywhere in the stadium any time I wanted.

Jon

Jon | Oct 26, 2007 | 4:25PM

Paranoia is only overrated when it isn't true...and your latter comment prove that's not the case.

Robert Anthony Pitera | Oct 26, 2007 | 4:26PM

Funny how we have this large schism building between concepts like cloud computing and AIR, Silverlight, Prism which intend to bring the web down to your desktop where you can run it locally. Our options just keep broadening. Pretty soon we'll all be frozen in option lock.

And of all the database techs out there now I prefer SQLite. Free, tiny, fast, capable, mobile, open, multi-platform. What's not to love? And the license - here's a excerpt "Anyone is free to copy, modify, publish, use, compile, sell, or distribute the original SQLite code, either in source code form or as a compiled binary, for any purpose, commercial or non-commercial, and by any means." Now that's what all open sauce code should be like. Not some lame GPL'd, Creative Commons claptrap. MySQL? Open sauced like this? I don't think so.

Dave Cline | Oct 26, 2007 | 4:27PM

When I read about "cloud computing", I can't help but remember Apollo Computer, and Tanenbaum's "Amoeba OS". Everything old is new again.

Robert Yoder | Oct 26, 2007 | 4:49PM

I remember the days of centralized computing (yes, I'm that old). Some of the memories are good, but most are not because so little was under the control of individuals. The mainframe gods were obsessed with control and all too often it led to diminished personal productivity. The minicomputer era, which the mainframe gods called "distributed computing," as if it were some gift they were bestowing upon us, did improve the lives of some of us who were lucky enough to have VAX or Unix systems available to us. But it was not until microcomputers came along that a significant degree of computing freedom and professional productivity was achieved, much to the furious consternation of the mainframe gods.


We built our own infrastructure at first. My group had a building full of Apple II systems (later adding IBMs and others) all running UCSD Pascal over a twisted-pair network whose server was a Corvus. We did serious programming for years on those little boxes at about the same cost as dumb terminals and "CPU hour" charges from the mainframe tenders. We also used the our VAX, of course, but our use of the mainframe diminished exponentially as our productivity increased.


Now we seem to be coming full term. I'm not necessarily against some Internet-based centralization of services, but I think our long-term satisfaction depends upon (1) the degree of benevolence of the service provider(s) such as Google, (2) the robustness of the instructure, both local and Internet, and (3) our ability to keep the old mainframe gods -- who are still convinced they were right -- from co-opting the centralization and taking away our choices and productivity.


I believe that a cross-fertilized, healthy mix of approaches is the best and most flexible path to a productive future. But we don't have to look far to see that accumulation and hoarding of power (and money, and control) are powerful if not dominant forces in the world.


Be careful what you wish for.

DarkHorse | Oct 26, 2007 | 5:18PM

sounds good to me. Hope you win the contest ! PS what would it be like if Google bought AT&T ? hmmm, beer, good.

Ted Potter | Oct 26, 2007 | 5:35PM

Or what if Google bought Sprint-Nextel, which has a market cap of only $50 billion?

michael | Oct 26, 2007 | 6:20PM

I think Google is still one of the nicer companies, despite having one of the top 3 most annoying advertising (Google Ads, 3rd only to blinking/marquee text and flash ads like "Punch the monkey!"), I'd prefer Google openly extend an open source database than a closed MS one that only works on one OS.

Go Team Cringley! But if you get Clarkey on board you really should change your team name, your options are Monolith, Odyssey, We got Clarkey! etc. And if you get Clarke, you have to get the Clarkey, Jeremy Clarkson, I'm sure he'd love to be test pilot.

Chris | Oct 26, 2007 | 6:38PM

Most of you guys are completely ignorant. Google has fixed areas where MySQL sucks big time - replication and HA. MySQL does not have the bandwidth or the engineering talent (yes that true for all you guys who believe geniuses work on open source) to fix all the issues in their products. So it is actually nice of Google to let that code be used by other people. Can you imagine a company letting their employees work and contribute for other company (does not matter if it is open source company)?

MySQL User | Oct 26, 2007 | 6:55PM

Most of you guys are completely ignorant. Google has fixed areas where MySQL sucks big time - replication and HA. MySQL does not have the bandwidth or the engineering talent (yes that true for all you guys who believe geniuses work on open source) to fix all the issues in their products. So it is actually nice of Google to let that code be used by other people. Can you imagine a company letting their employees work and contribute for other company (does not matter if it is open source company)?

MySQL User | Oct 26, 2007 | 6:56PM

Maybe everyone on the planet could vote for one person to be strapped to the Team Cringely Lunar probe and sent to the moon. It would be a bit like a Big Brother eviction except on a planet wide scale. I know who I would vote for .....the guy who decided to put Mayonnaise into Burger King's Whopper and the guy who goes "uh ...uh" in rap music records.

Gunslinger

gunslinger | Oct 26, 2007 | 6:58PM

I have been using Google Apps for over a year, including for indirectly work-related uses such as collating information about software techniques and various other technical data.

Lately however, most Google Apps have been blocked by corporate IT. Presumably this is part of a well-meaning effort to prevent company proprietary information from leaking. As paranoid, counter productive, short sighted and futile this may be, Google Apps will have zero impact and might as well not exist for companies like the one I work for.

Maybe once other companies learn to leverage distributed, collaborative tools to their competitive advantage, their more conservative competitors will notice. But until then, Google Apps won't be much of a consideration in most of the business world.

2.718 | Oct 26, 2007 | 7:16PM

The non-premier edition of google apps also allows you to host your own domain, no charge.

Jim Perry | Oct 26, 2007 | 7:27PM

what would it be like if Google bought AT&T...

It would never work, the cultures are diametrically opposed...

This all sounds like Network Computing which failed for Sun before and will again.

mtroute | Oct 26, 2007 | 7:31PM

A nitpick: Arthur C. Clarke is not "the first person to write about communication satellites." He is credited with the concept of communications satellites in geostationary orbits.

PapayaSF | Oct 26, 2007 | 7:39PM

Google search GOOD.

Google anything else BAD.

Would you want Micro$oft to house your data?

Didn't think so, so why is anyone else OK?

Why are so many people trying to get back to mainframes and dumb terminals? I just don't get it.

Why don't they just put the computer in the TV and get it over with.

nfleming | Oct 26, 2007 | 9:45PM

MySQL is NOT free for commercial use, nor is it anywhere near as feature-rich, mature or as stable as PostgreSQL. Our office discovered this whilst trialling MySQL 5.1 for a few months this year but dumped it for PostgreSQL. All the MySQL fan-boys out there – have you compared MySQL stored procedures with PostgreSQL or Oracle or DB2? It's utter rubbish. I can't believe MySQL gets such a rap. Put it to the test with multi-gigabyte databases, thousands of users and replication. One wonders why it earned the third character in the LAMP acronym, and not PostgreSQL. It should be LAPP – Linux, Apache, PostgreSQL, Python.

Microsoft has nothing to worry about with Google if they're really backing the leaky MySQL ship.

Alan T | Oct 26, 2007 | 9:57PM

Cloud computing is just a another name for Grid computing which is another name for ...

These ideas have been around for 20-30 yrs.

This is all old news.

BillyG | Oct 27, 2007 | 12:10AM

The other big advantage of Google Apps premier is that you can undelete emails.

http://labnol.blogspot.com/2007/10/signing-up-for-gmail-account-consider.html

Amit Agarwal | Oct 27, 2007 | 1:01AM

GoDaddy offers 100 email addresses in your own domain(s) for $30 per annum, i.e. 30 cents per address per annum.  Granted, they only give you a lousy 2GB to share across the mail boxes, but if you still operate in POP mode, you can get by with that.  Google will have to sharpen their price if they really want to win market share in this space; or wait for us all to switch to IMAP.

Trevor Turton | Oct 27, 2007 | 1:16AM

Cloud computing? Sounds like SkyNet to me.

Eric | Oct 27, 2007 | 1:43AM
Imagine a much more user-friendly version of Amazon's EC2 and S3 services,

I would, except that I don't have any idea what Amazon's EC2 and S3 services are, nor what their standard less-user-friendly versions are like.

John | Oct 27, 2007 | 2:19AM

I had a shared solution (not unlike godaddy but also a web, mysql and svn server) for $8/month which ends up at about $100 a year, then it blew up in August.

No support beyond "just re-upload your emails from backup and you should be all set"... Anyway before reading this article, I had just noticed the IMAP setting in gmail, an account i had—until now—only kept as a 'just in case' address. Now i'm going to be setting up a hosted solution with google as well, it's so much more reliable, and if you don't need the 25 gigs, it's free as well.

And for Trevor: Why IMAP is better then POP3

Collin Reisdorf | Oct 27, 2007 | 2:32AM

I dropped MySQL the very day they announced partnership with those SCO clowns. Hopefully,
Google knows what they are doing.

TC | Oct 27, 2007 | 5:07AM

What about data privacy and mining? There were a number of Elephants under the carpet. This addresses all of them except for that and Getting All Your Data Back. A fast pass look at Postini seems to indicate that if the data is older than 90 days, you get to Pay More, see here:


http://www.postini.com/google_apps/features.html

and from the FAQ:


Q: What if I want more than a 90 day recovery period?


A: We can easily upgrade the Message Recovery component of your service to Message Archiving. With Message Archiving, you can choose retention periods for your archived email from 1, 3, 5, 7, or 9 years, and gain additional features such as audit reports and personal archives for your users.

Stewart Dean | Oct 27, 2007 | 6:58AM

Your title reads "Google's plan to host ALL our applications."

Ok, so google is partnering Mysql AB, but how will that benefit or promote online applications?

It will not solve bottlenecks like:
- bandwidth
- off-line availability
- trust (!)
- unknown SLAs (e.g. backup recovery)
- limitations off browsers (client-side)

Patrick | Oct 27, 2007 | 3:09PM

Unless you actually NEED 25 gig the hosting service from Google is free. I don't think that was clear from your article. All you pay for is the domain name.

If you have a dozen "employees" or in your case three, and only one of them needs the extra space, the $50 per seat may not be all that attractive. I have a Google hosted domain (for free) but I also have a regular Gmail ID for which I've paid something like $20 for extra storage. I can use the Google forwarding to make the whole thing transparent.

To the comments about Postini. I think companies that are doing mail retention to be in compliance with the new laws NEED to be not pinching pennies for this service. As far as I know none of this applies to the small home business, and Google's normal retention system is good enough. If you are paranoid, you could always forward an extra copy of all your Google mail to a Yahoo account where they claim to give you infinite storage. Good luck getting all those messages out again if you ever need them though.

Mac Beach | Oct 27, 2007 | 3:56PM

Google seems to actually try to give people something great in exchange for them using their search site. They likely will also in exchange for people using their online software. This is in contrast to other large companies who would prefer to take as much as possible and deliver little, if anything. This is the difference between enlightened capitalism and the robber baron mentality.

But the real issue for me is, should Google build this data base, it will become overwhelmingly attractive for an extreme government. Such a government will see it as the property of the state. They will do the same kind of data mining they do now without warrant. Seven years ago I would have thought this deluded paranoa. But now I am certain the ability to spy on everyone all the time will be too attractive to overlook.

Maybe Google could sidestep this if everything was automatically encrypted, but then, how would anyone know it really was encrypted?

Unfortunately, we know from experience that Google will turn over the info quietly and cheerfully as they have in China, an act that got people jailed and some quite possibly executed.

Jim Fearing | Oct 27, 2007 | 4:21PM

There are a few ways to know if something is encrypted. I'm no expert but here's my guesstermation. https://www.bot.com, with the 's' as in the past there to let people know it is a secure network. Then there could be this way of designating the URL as an Encrypted website.
http(encrypted)://www.bot.com, that was too easy LOL

Ed | Oct 27, 2007 | 4:57PM

I've had the free google apps for my domain (4GB email and increasing) for over a year and a half now, and I love it and highly recommend it!

I only ask for a couple accounts, and google gave me 25, so I create dummy accounts and forward large email attachments there for archiving. One way to archive all of my email and save the cost of the premium service.

It should also be noted that along with email hosting, also included in google-apps are web site hosting (mainly static pages), calendars, start page, docs, and chat. All for the low price of NOTHING! :-)

Bruce Smith | Oct 27, 2007 | 6:46PM

will it still be cloudy :) if google make a weather app.

sarchi | Oct 27, 2007 | 7:29PM

Not if they raise the Iso bar to a higher standard. har har har snort snort

Ed | Oct 27, 2007 | 10:28PM

Fantastic! I'm Thrilled Google + Firefox + all the small Innovative Web2.0 Co.'s FREED us all from the Shackles of MicroPOOP!!

U hit the Nail on da head when U said Happy Slaves!

Something Microshite never understood nor never Cared about!

The Idiot CEO's + CIO's (altho back then I'm sure they didn't rate a Co. Title other than Computer Nerd) bought into that DOS later to be WinDOZE + we've been Forced to Use it ever since.

Think back to the Countless # of times when U only wanted to Quickly + Simply Print out a 1 Page Letter + god forbid 1 Mailing Label - 14 Hours + 40 Pages + 400 Messed Up Labels later U finally threw in the Towel + said Screw It! I'll just Type it out Manually on my Trusty Old Smith Corona or Grandma's Underwood!!

;))

BillyWarhol | Oct 28, 2007 | 9:10PM

We where never forced into using Microsoft. It was the best operating system and (prob still) Office software up to a few years ago.

Look at how people are starting to move over to OS X, if you build something better then people will use it. It's that simple.

As for Google, I don't doubt their power in back end but I can't see these web apps really threatening MS any time soon. If anything .Net is probably more of a threat to google's back end business.

John Owens | Oct 29, 2007 | 7:57AM

I have no need of Office except with clients that require Office and they fear Google.

Win Hinkle | Oct 29, 2007 | 8:48AM

John Owens writes that Microsoft had the best OS "up to a few years ago." I find this a bit light on history: MS-DOS 2 was arguably the first version better than CP/M, but it was only out for 9 months before the Mac was introduced in early 1984, and it would be very hard for me to describe Windows version before Windows '95 - or after Mac OS X 10.2 - as "better than" contemporary MacOS versions. And there's always Linux out there too, although after using it for a dozen years, I honestly still don't think it's the "best OS" for most people.

Dan | Oct 29, 2007 | 9:29AM

I read an article in "Application Development Trends" some years ago and it has been stuck in my mind every since. The article was about a futuristic view of a manufacturer shifting it's database around the world in minutes and setting up shop anywhere. Now it looks like it might come true. I welcome the future. I'm sure Google is extremely aware of the "Big Brother/Sky Net" trying to be place on it and will give users controls over their information which will eliminate most doubts and paranoia. I'm sure they know if they violate the public trust it can forever damage their business. Bring on the future of cloud/grid computing. I will us it as an adjunct to may computing needs as necessary.

TJGodel | Oct 29, 2007 | 10:00AM

Unfortunately, we know from experience that Google will turn over the info quietly and cheerfully as they have in China, an act that got people jailed and some quite possibly executed.

This is untrue: Google hosts no personal information in China specifically because so they can't be compelled to turn it over. You're thinking of the scumbags at Yahoo, who are responsible for the imprisonment of three democracy activists:
http://www.boingboing.net/2006/04/19/report-yahoo-implica.html

Usman | Oct 29, 2007 | 10:38AM

You can try Microsoft's Office Live free option. Free domain hosting of whatever your domain name is and up to 25 e-mail accounts, each with a full 5 GB of space.

They have a couple of paid options but I don't know the differences.

jeffmcnamera | Oct 29, 2007 | 11:40AM

Actually, beyond DOS, MS has NEVER had "the best" pc operating system! And later versions of IBM DOS were better (features & execution) than similar versions of MS-DOS. Win 1, 2 & 3 were laughable attempts to emulate the MAC & Amiga OS's. By the time win 3.1 / 95 came along, OS/2 was a FAR BETTER operating system. Currently, look at Mac OS X & Linnux - still eating microsoft's lunch.

Gary | Oct 29, 2007 | 2:54PM

You paint a rosy picture with this article, but I don't think it will actually come to fruition. Why? Partially b/c MySQL AB has a lot of other companies that use them too, and they're not going to marginalize them just to please Google - however powerful Google might or might not be. So, while Google can certainly contribute code, there's won't be a single lick of functionality that would make the code dependent on Google. Watch for Google buying up MySQL AB before that happens. ;-)



More likely than not, Google is adding some stuff they are finding themselves porting to every new release of MySQL, stuff that MySQL has probably said "we want to do that, you seem to have it done, can we just put that in instead after reviewing it?" So it's probably something to save Google the time of maintaining and porting it - or at least porting it each time - and something MySQL AB already wanted to put in.



Sorry, no grand scheme to take over the world here.

TemporalBeing | Oct 29, 2007 | 3:49PM

Amazon's EC2 and S3 web services were intended to leverage unused capacity in the company's huge server and storage infrastructure...

This statement is factually inaccurate. Amazon has made it clear that it plans for Amazon Web Services to be the third of its major revenue generating business (the other two being their consumer business and their merchant business). Jeff Bezos has said that he intends for Web Services to become "materially significant" to Amazon. Given that Amazon is a $10BN+ business, this sets the bar pretty high, but it does communicate the fact that this is not just using up spare servers they happen to have laying around. This also implies that they have become the incumbent who Microsoft and Google will have to challenge. Don't underestimate Amazon's infrastructure or technical savvy - they have been at this longer that almost anyone else on the web. Selling software and ads are both very different businesses than selling infrastructure as a service. Aside from the operational implications, I recently heard an Amazon representative stress the fact that they "specialize in high volume, low margin businesses". Will be interesting to see the culture of doordesks take on the culture of the Googleplex and celebrity chefs.

Mike | Oct 29, 2007 | 4:54PM

Cringely:

I, for one, welcome our cloud-computing, free desktop application suite providing, Googlian overlords.
I cross-posted on your piece to http://blog.innovators-network.org The Innovators Network is a non-profit dedicated to bringing technology to startups, small businesses, non-profits, venture capitalists and intellectual property experts. Please visit us and help grow our community!

Best wishes for continued success,

Anthony Kuhn
Innovators Network

Anthony Kuhn | Oct 29, 2007 | 8:32PM

Cringely,

I'm very curious why Yahoo! hasn't offered free POP or IMAP by now for their email service. I have been submitting a request for IMAP for years. Could you use your industry contacts to find out why Yahoo! has decided for so long that IMAP wasn't worth it? And now that Google decided it is, will Yahoo! follow suit? Thanks!

Stephen | Oct 31, 2007 | 3:30PM

Stephen: Google finally added IMAP support because the iPhone gmail client was broken without such support. (Your iphone inbox rcvd a copy of each msg you sent, due to the way gmail uses labels, not folders.)

fjl | Oct 31, 2007 | 5:25PM

credit card companies know a whole lot of stuff about me. being paranoid about google knowing a lot about you is ridiculous. if you choose to do a lot of business with a single company they will know lots about you. if that gets you worried, don't do so much business with them, its not like there isn't choice.

i've said if before, i'll say it again, google gets a lot of great press. they're apps are useful, but they're not exactly brilliant. most of them are rudimentary at best.

daniel | Nov 02, 2007 | 12:06AM

I like Google. But your commentary has me thinking that I am like the man who poke his stick into The Blob and became part of The Blob.

Brent Jones | Nov 03, 2007 | 3:50PM

I like Google. But your commentary has me thinking that I am like the man who poked his stick into The Blob and became part of The Blob.

Brent Jones | Nov 03, 2007 | 3:50PM

and after the cloud... what?

gregory | Nov 08, 2007 | 4:38AM